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A Book to Make Learning Difficult

Words:

Edd Norval
November 26, 2018

Books are a child's inroad to knowledge and education. There's been a movement of artists and illustrators over the last half-decade that are creating 'kids' books - essentially, books for kids that adults won't fall asleep reading. This one, rather than having expletive-laden passages, pokes fun at the English language.

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The idea was to create 'the worst alphabet book ever'. But why? The books writers Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter were spending time with some friends and their children, reading an alphabet book when the child came across 'Q' and the word was 'Quinoa'.


As confused as the child was by the word, the adults were by the choice of it. It's not phonetic and certainly isn't one of the most accessible examples of a 'Q' word. Niche South American grains usually enter a child's vocabulary years later. 'Queens' might have been more appropriate? Whilst the child was confused, those in attendance felt a spark. There was something in this. The adults laughed. The over-subscribed book genre had a novel new entry cooking.


Sort of a joke, sort of not, the pair began dropping ideas into a shared document with words they thought would fit their 'book'. Eventually, it started to become more fully-formed. Although accessibility isn't their mission - they've not been too cruel. What they've created is still for kids. Actually, a lot of the words they've chosen are engaging - albeit a headache for parents to explain.

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Raj is a rapper and Chris is a computer programmer, so the process was foreign to them. From inception to completion, it took them around three years. Once the book had suffered through many revisions, it was given to illustrator Maria Beddia to bring their unique world to life.


Behind the book lies a profound thought, that kids are effectively as smart as adults, just without the means of communicating it effectively. Whether or not that is necessarily true comes second to the notion that this really is a book that makes learning a novel task, rather than an arduous and boring necessity.


Containing many contradictory rules, the English language, for young children learning, can seem confusing at times. The guys trust that kids can handle it though, that offering them an indication that things aren't always as simple as they seem will help them - all the while having a laugh in doing so. Titled P is for Pterodactyl, the book has already sold out its initial run on Amazon and is in for a rush re-print. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, especially for making learning fun and giving kids the confidence to laugh at mistakes.


It's an idea that might sound crazy and the 'science' behind it relatively unknown, but if it empowers parents and children to learn together and laugh together, it might be more of a success than they'd initially imagined. On top of that, it's a nicely edited little book that will take pride of place on any messy playroom floor.

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